Banning Glyphosate – Shooting the sentinel to coveer the culprit?
Posted on August 28th, 2014

By Chandre Dharmawardana.

A news item states that the Task-force on Kidney Disease of unknown origin (CKDU) has got the government to ban Glyphosate, a harmless herbicide, in agricultural provinces like Polonnaruwa, Anuradhapura and Badulla. Doing something” about CKDU has become a political necessity.
But glyphosate is the sentinel that stands guard against weeds clogging up our plantations. Minister Abeywardena says that according to agricultural experts the country’s economy would collapse if glyphosate was banned”, but the loss of a life could not be measured in terms of money”. What proof lives will be saved? Unfortunately, not one human life will be saved, although the lives of many weeds will be saved.
It is a grievous case of a strong divergence between the public perception and scientists’ perception of things. The type of unreasonable public fear resulting from incomprehension is quite common.
Many readily accept that CKDU, and all sorts of other ills are due to industries or modern agriculture. Of course, generally speaking this is good sense, especially in societies where the rules regarding public safety etc., are not properly enforced. The collusion between politicians and big business wishing to cut corners and make a profit is well known. The same is suspected of the global food business which sells unhealthy highly-sugared pop-drinks and salted, processed , preservative-laced foods. These are, however, much safer than the traditional Kalu-dodol, vatalappan or Kiri-paeni” etc. for sugar, and Lunu-miris, Jaadi or karawala” or kola-kaenda” for salt. In fact, the environment” has become far safer than ever before. Hence people live longer, and the population is increasing at a dizzing rate. Their common ailments (diabetes, hypertension, and consequences there of) are related to their life-styles or due to aging (cancer, dementia etc.) rather than to the environment”.
A king-pin of traditional agriculture was human labour, be it in the form of slaves, surfs, or indented” labour. Modern tea estates (and other crop plantations) use vastly less labour per bushel of produce than in the 1960s. In addition, we have far more plantation acres than ever before. This great elimination of human suffering and servitude has been possible by the introduction of safe herbicides, fertilizers and modern know-how from agricultural science and plant physiology. This is why a couple of farms in Saskatchewan, operating only in the summer, can produce all the parippu” (dahl, lentils) that Sri Lanka needs! Sri Lanka is not there yet, and imports its dahl from wintry Canada.
Thus the discovery of the virtually non-toxic Glyphosate by John E Franz in 1970 was an epoch-making event in agriculture. Glyphoste acts only on plants and not animals. This made it possible to eliminate a huge burden in manual weeding, soil erosion due to constant uprooting, as well as the time up-take in planting. Glyphosate was commercialized (under the name Roundup”) by the agri-giant Monsanto for many decades till its patent ran out, and since then other companies have re-marketed it under other names, and even began trade wars against ‘Roundup’.
In Sri Lanka, just recently, in desperate gestures to pin the blame on CKDU on a politically attractive target like agri-business, it was first claimed that the water, as well as our tea, rice and vegetables coming from the Rajarata are contaminated with Arsenic, or Cadmium and other toxins. The boycott – Lanka Diaspora lobby caught onto this with glee. When the extensive WHO-study, as well as other studies (Chandrajith et al, Japanese-Sri Lankan studies, Australian-Sri Lankan Studies) showed that such toxins were not present in critical amounts, a desperate attack on Glyphosate was undertaken, even when there is clear evidence that Glyphosate is NOT perceptibly present in our water or soils.
CKDU was first detected in the Balkan regions in the 1950s, long before the discovery of Glyphosate. In Sri Lanka, CKDU may have begun in the 1980s, decades before the use of Glyphosate.
So why ban it when it cannot be the culprit? Why not go for its likely causes? Why not provide clean water to the people?
What is the cause of CKDU? Many plantations and farmers use five to ten times the needed amount of fertilizer (containing potassium, nitrogen and phosphorus), hoping to get booster harvests. Clearly, someone makes money by selling more fertilizer, subsidized from the state coffers. But the excess fertilizer gets washed by the heavy rains in the hills. It is brought to the Rajarata by irrigation schemes like the Mahaweli and contaminates the water. This writer believes that CKDU arises from the contamination of drinking water (a detailed discussion is given in a recent research article in Environmental Geochemistry and Health”; or ).
If we are to save lives, fertilizer should be sold to farmers in controlled quantities, just as pharmaceuticals are sold to patients using a prescription. Then nature, and heavy monsoons that wash away the offending stuff, will soon bring matters to normal.
Banning glyphosate, or banning modern inorganic fertilizers outright, will indeed lead to extensive starvation, loss of lives as well as the rapid collapse of our agricultural sector.

6 Responses to “Banning Glyphosate – Shooting the sentinel to coveer the culprit?”

  1. AnuD Says:

    When this same article appeared in another website. I posted a comment in which I cut and paste an article from SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN that said that the inert material contained in glyphosate is highly toxic to human cells. Even at the concentrations lower than that is used in GLYPHOSATE formulations, that inert material was toxic to human body.

    If you google and see there are so many articles which talks about Glyphosate toxicity.

    Overall, kidney and human health problems in agricultural areas of Sri lanka should be attributed to all the artificial chemicals used and that includes fertilizer and all the pesticides. Besides, that think about extermination of little animals living in soil, air and water.

    It is well established, nitrate and nitrite produced and dissolved in well water etc., are highly toxic to human body.

  2. aloy Says:

    We must give the benefit of the doubt to the innocent farmer. Not to the multinational company.

  3. Nanda Says:

    We must give the benefit of the doubt to the innocent farmer. Not to the American Jewish murderers who pay everyone to kill people and sell poison.

    What a statement ! “Glyphoste acts only on plants and not animals”

    Then why people have put on gloves, wear masks, cover the body when spraying these poison ? I will challenge Ch- Andare to drink a tablespoon full of Round up and repeat this statement after 5 minutes.

  4. Lorenzo Says:

    CKD, CKDu, etc. are not the only health problems created by Glyphosate.

    It also affects animals and humans in their HOMONAL BALANCE and FERTILITY.

    but Monsanto is TOO POWERFUL no one can take it on. Now they are creating chemicals INCLUDING ROUNDUP (Glyphosate) that will create DEPENDENCE on it in plants.

    Monsanto is also trying to LICENCE seeds!!

    When that happens the basic necessity of food will be controlled by Monsanto!! Humans will have to either pay their extorion or find OTHER foods.

  5. Nanda Says:

    This writer MUST withdraw the statement “Glyphosate acts only on plants and not animals” or loose his credibility.

  6. Nanda Says:

    Monsanto is also trying to LICENCE seeds!!

    Very true. They have sued poor farmers and made them bankrupt because they grew their own seeds.

    Sri Lanka should BAN ALL MONSANTO products.

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